Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Year!

Have fun and hope your ship comes in!
From Snabby & Family

Friday, December 23, 2005

As Regards the Matter of Christmas

May it be chronicled as a Merry one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Fun Quiz!

Something to do when solitaire doesn't quite cut it.....a little bit of a surprise result for me, as I'm practically a teetotaler!

You taste like wine. You have a bittersweet
sophistication. Your fine sensibilities and
delicate flavors intoxicate those around you.

How do you taste?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, December 10, 2005

70's Apocalyptic Sci-FI

Well, of course the first thing I think of when I wake up today are those 70's movies that brought together environmental degradation, social engineering, and some pretty bad special effects. A very few are great, some are not so bad, most are awful, and some are obscure - all share some fairly famous actors.

**Fair warning-spoilers ahead!**

Zardoz (1974) - Stars Sean Connery in a plot so convoluted you'll need to watch this tripe at least twice to "get it" - here's a link to a very funny plot explanation. The movie takes it's name from an amalgamation of the book The Wizard of OZ. This link has pictures of the cast and also some more hilarious thoughts. My only other comment is that the first time I saw Red Hot Chili Pepper's video "Breaking the girl" I thought, "The costume designer ripped off Zardoz!!".

Z.P.G.(1972) - The title stands for "Zero Population Growth" and stars Geraldine Chaplin and Oliver Reed as renagades who dare to become pregnant! The funniest part of the show is at the end, when they are sentenced to "death", along with their baby, and are covered by a large plastic umbrella which is spray-painted green to spare the surrounding folks their slow demise by asphyxiation! This review gives even more spoilers, but really gives you the feel of the movie!

Quintet (1979) - This movie was the most confusing for me, I originally thought it was made by Russians, but it turns out to have been directed by Robert Altman, and filmed in Montreal. Not so amazingly, I found a reviewer with the same thoughts. It stars Paul Newman and a large cast of also-rans in a bizarre New Ice Age drama that's so boring no one's even reviewed it on the rottentomatoes site! (However there is a picture of Paul and a quick synopsis)

THX 1138(1971) - This is a still relatively obscure movie, but very good (in my opinion). Stars Robert Duvall in a George Lucas movie that Lucas orginally made in college! Here's a review based on a new director's cut released in 2004. Unlike many Lucus movies, this isn't a warm fuzzy film - the "mood enhancing" drugs the US market is peddling nowadays bear a creepy close resemblance to the drugs forced on the characters....

Now for the best of the last! Since you are reading this, you've seen these movies so I won't bother with links....

Logan's Run (1976)- RENEW! RENEW! This movie made my list specifically because Michael York is HOT!...and also because it's just good entertainment. Cult of the Young anyone? (remember to check out the plastic surgery scenes...)

Planet of the Apes (the whole 1970's series of movies) - PETA's wet dream - I'm kidding! So much social commentary, so little time....'Nuff said!

Soylent Green (1973) - You-know-who shouting "Soylent Green is People!". However, realistically I'd have to say the powers that be would just let the poor starve (like they do now...). Far cheaper than building some expensive machinery to turn people into food! Duh!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Narnia Effect

It seems that both wings of the foolish bird known as American Politics are getting sucked into an obtuse debate on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe movie coming out on Friday. One side is generating paranoia about how their convenient strawman is trying to stifle the Word of God by shunning the film. The other half is taking the bait and trying to patiently explain to foolish masses how this movie is no different than the Passion of the Christ and bad for "progressive politics."

Over here in reality, we have people that enjoyed the story of Narnia and hope the movie does for Narnia what Peter Jackson did for Lord of the Rings. I'm going to see it, enjoy it, and not worry about which powerful force is trying to trick the admittedly gullible (my past self is no exception!) American public one way or the other. If the movie is true to C.S. Lewis' storyline, then I will be very pleased (other than my secret hope that Lucy is less maudlin and whiny). The man, unlike so many pretenders today, stands on his own as a literary force.

Bring on the entertainment, Christian or not, I want to see it. Whether it is Mel Gibson or Michael Moore, bring the sh*t to the table and let us have a looksee.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cruisin' the Bear

I found out from commenter Lynne at the Portland MetroBlog that the Portland Spirit has Cinnamon Bear cruises for those who can shell out $24 per adult and $18 per child. The title of this post leads to the URL for the cruises, but the MetroBlog link includes some interesting stuff on the Portland history of the program. Also, Wikipedia has an entry for our bear as well. When Portland decides they are into something, they are loyal for years. We crave a good tradition around here I guess.

On the flip side, SunRiver resorts are using the Cinnamon Bear music in their radio ads and it sounds just plain wrong to me. I like SunRiver and I'm sure it is an honest blunder, but there isn't much about Bend that reminds me of Maybeland.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Cinnamon Bear!

Here's a link to last year's post - a little late! I don't think I could improve upon it, so I won't try...Remember, the series is designed to start the day after Thanksgiving so you may be behind the 8 ball!
Here's to another season of The Crazy Quilt Dragon, the Inkaboo's, and Queen Melissa!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The 2005 Blazer Dispersal Draft

Portland is now into year two of their third and latest epoch in Trailblazer history. The first epoch, The Witty Epoch, included Blazer history from expansion team through championship team on up until the day Bob Whitsitt was hired. Thus began the Whitsitt era which began with the slow dissolution of the "awesome core" of Drexler, Porter, Duckworth, Williams, Kersey, Adelman, and Schonely on through the Isiah "I like dice" Rider and several other players that generally found ways to alert the police to their presence.

The third and current era of the Blazers is known as the Witless epoch. This era, captained by John Nash and Steve Patterson, is tasked with the final destruction of the Portland Trailblazers and its rapid descent into an expansion team. Their means of doing this is to alienate and eliminate the main core of Blazer talent and replace them with people who've never attended college. Let's take a look at what was given up in the last 12 months...

Derek Anderson, Houston, 11.3 pts per game (PPG)

Richie Frahm, Minnesota, 5.3 ppg (in 12 minutes!)

Nick Van Exel, San Antonio, 7.0 ppg

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Sacramento, 15.4 ppg, 7.5 reb, 3.8 assists

Damon Stoudamire, Memphis, 10.1 ppg, 4.8 assists

Those are some darn fine players there. There was a moment in time, when the Blazers got rid of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells and received Abdur Rahim and Theo Ratliff when I was excited for them and looked forward to great things. Then came the 2005 dispersal draft when the Blazers jettisoned the people above as well as Coach Maurice Cheeks (whose 76ers now lead their division by the way), decided to let a front office person coach their team and decided to play only the youngest and most inexperienced players at all times.

When the current season rolled around, Ruben Patterson decided it might be fun to play to win and got verbal about it. In the tradition of going nuclear with the slightest provocation, the Blazers decided to sideline Patterson (as if a momentary outburst were the equivalent to seasons of public whining [Terrell Owens] or beating on a random fan [Ron Artest]). I'm sure it made Nash feel righteous and tough though, as if the entire Blazer fan base were as gullible as 700 Club viewers. If the Blazers lose Ruben Patterson, the bell curve from 1970 to 2006 will be complete with the parts of Geoff Petrie and Sidney Wicks played by Darius Miles and Zach Randolph and the part of LaRue Martin played by Sergei Monia. Luckily, we have the high part of the bell curve where we can remember Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler.

Looking at the post-Blazer careers of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, perhaps Portlanders were pointing their fingers in the wrong direction. Both are prospering with other teams and not having the same problems as they did here...coincidence? I think not.

For those who might want a taste of the pre-Witless epoch of Blazer history, I suggest paying more attention to the Sacramento Kings. With Geoff Petrie in the front office and Rick Adelman as coach along with Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Raheem, there is a lot to like here. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood at the Vietnamese Catholics Martyrs Church in Sacramento. Sometimes I think she is crying for the Blazers.

How About Another Snabulus Caption Contest?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Here's wishing you all a safe, warm, and palatable Thanksgiving! (No turkey and mashed potatoes for me over here in the Land of the Rising Sun, so here's a picture we can share and pretend. Some of those bird bits look a bit carbonized, though...)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Cause to Celebrate...from Oregon State!!!!!!

Although I do admit they say it's probably not that big a deal.

Apparently dark beers, stouts, porters, and ales may actually be beneficial to your health. They apparently have substantial amounts of flavonids, anti-oxidants that neutralize cell-damaging "free radical" oxygen molecules in your blood.

Any beverage that makes use of hops contains flavonids, but darker, thicker brews are much more richly blessed (in more ways than one).

Despite the potential benefits, however, OSU doesn't recommend suddenly increasing your craft ale intake. You're only liable to end up with a beer gut for your trouble.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reversing a Destructive Trend

The link to this article posted on Fark said very cynically: "Remember the fuss 20 years ago about how acid rain was going to destroy our forests and lakes and basically end civilization as we know it? Well, it didn't"

The article itself is far less obnoxious.

Some of the most sensitive lakes and streams in Britain, which were ravaged by acid rain, are now showing positive signs of recovery. Levels of acidity in the water have halved, and wildlife is starting to make a healthy comeback. All this is clearly thanks to an 84% decline in emissions of sulphur dioxide and a 37% decline in nitrous oxide since the 1970s.

Coal miners weren't too happy about Britain's switch to natural gas power from coal, but Mother Gaia is apparently showing her gratitude in no uncertain terms. If nothing else, we know our one and only planet will recover from abuse if we let it.

And our government still tries to deny acid rain even exists...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

West African Peanut Stew - NOT VEGETARIAN!

There were no good pictures of the stew (almost all vegetarian versions with no rice), so instead I've posted a pic of a Malian lady in traditional native dress (another one of my hobbies). The title bar link goes to some interesting info on this country.

This is a great family meal, I got it out of some cookbook that a relative who shall remain nameless (!) gave me. This was the only good recipe in that whole dang book, so I copied this one recipe out and Goodwill got another book to sell...

West African Chicken & Ground nut Stew

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbl veg oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28oz can tomatoes, undrained (pureed if whole)
1 15.5oz can great northern beans undrained
1 11 oz can corn DRAINED
1 potato, peeled & chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tbl tomato paste
1 ts salt
1 ts chili powder
1/2 ts ginger
1/2 ts cayenne pepper
Hot Rice

In 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook chicken in oil until no longer pink, stirring frequently. add onion and garlic, cook & Stir 3-4 min or until onion is tender. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. bring to a boil. reduce heat to med-low ; cover & cook for 30 min or until potato is tender (may add tomato stuff last, as tomato products prevent the potatoes from cooking completely) serve over hot rice.

Chicken - of course, boneless breasts or thighs are easier to use, but more expensive
Potatoes-add more if you want to stretch the meal
Peanut Butter-I love peanut butter, so I've always doubled or tripled the recipe amount
Ginger-it's weird, but don't leave it out, I made it once from memory & forgot it - it definitely adds something!
Garlic-you can buy pre-minced garlic for faster prep and less mess
Hot Spices-adjust the chili powder & cayenne pepper to your or your family's taste

Friday, November 11, 2005

The New Home of the Teletubbies

I was posting a comment when I saw this in my word verification:

I think it accurately describes most of what I see in the glowing box in the living room.

Armistice Day

I thought I would repost last year's entry by our resident jarhead Infogeek:

Today we take the time remember the end of World War One, which symbolically ended on the 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month in 1918. We don't call today Armistice Day in the US anymore, we call it Veterans Day. If you are in Canada, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand, you probably call today Remembrance Day. In fact, we don’t just remember the people who served during World War One anymore, we hopefully remember all the people who served in all the wars, fought all over the world.

Most people do this by wearing a Poppy on the 11th of November. If you are unaware of this tradition, please follow the link for a far better explanation than I could ever produce. Significance of the Poppy .

I think if we can honor the wish of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, and ‘never break faith with those who have died’, we would not only honor the dead, but the living as well. We shall always have wars, but if we make every effort to remember those who have died in past struggles, maybe, just maybe it might help us to work toward reducing the number of wars we fight in the future. I can only hope so.

May we never break faith…

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Hello Everyone! Another year of Verboortian goodness has come and almost gone...
Title Bar link goes to an article KATU did a little while ago.

I didn't plan it, but my arrival at approximately 3:30 am got me the first slot in line this year, along w/$25.00 in FREE sausage! They don't normal give out any for any reason, and other years people have come at midnight, or 1:00 am, (I thought for sure the guys in the RV would have reserved their normal 1st place w/chairs, but no...). It didn't rain until about 7 am, and it' wasn't as cold either. "It's downright balmy!" said one of the early birds who's been there in years past like me.

I spent the wee hours w/Becky, who's husband is up in Vancouver B.C. painting the Lion's Gate Bridge. He's been there since May, and is planning on coming home around Thanksgiving or Christmas - the communte, long separation and high cost of Canadian life, plus the growingly nasty weather are all part the decision to leave the job early. They are just like Snabby & me, like to spend 24/7/365 together! (Their first phone bill after he took the job she admitted was $1,000!)

He's not missed one Verboort Sausage Festival since they've been together, so she was grabbing kraut & sausage and heading up to B.C. for a 3 day weekend!

The next group of people were old timer's from Tigard. They have lots of family/friend parties like we do, and over discussions of how to make your own kraut and camping advice, they spoke about a "Salsa Garden Party". Basically you grow tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro and when it's all about ready, (they often go to a local farm to supplement supplies), have a Mexican-themed party w/Margaritas and everyone can make their own salsa!

I think it's a great idea and I'm going to try it this year, as last year we didn't have a garden. Yay!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Butternut Squash Bisque

Here's the recipe for the soup everyone raves about. It's from the Tomato restaurant in Vancouver, B.C.

Head Cheff David Alsop's Recipe

1/4 cup vegetable oil
Butternut Squash (about 2 1/4 lbs.)
-peeled, seeded & diced into 1" cubes
2 large cooking onions (4 0z each)
-halved and cut into squares
1 TBL tomato paste
1 tsp each salt & pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups water
1 cup whipping cream

Heat oil on med heat in a large heavy bottomed pot. When oil starts to ripple add cubed squash. Spread out in pot & stir to brown squash evenly. Toss and stir squash for about 10 minutes. Add diced onion and stir into squash and satue until onion is tender-5 minutes, then add tomato paste; stir to coat onion and squash. Brown together for 3 minutes. Add water. Stir well to deglaze pan. Bring to simmer and cook until squash is soft and begins to fall apart. Remove pot from heat and strain out solids w/a sieve. Puree solids in a blender ro kitchen aid until it is a smooth paste. Add some of the liquid stock to make smooth. Return puree to the rest of the stock on the pot. Return pot to medium heat burner. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and rosemary. Add cream and stir well. reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

My Notes:
Butternut Squash-firmer and harder to peel (I just use a strong vegetable peeler). I usually get the biggest one I can find, just so it makes more soup. It's much easier to get the seeds out though.
Onions-I usually dice the onions quite finely (see my other note below). I sometimes don't use a full two onion's worth .
Rosemary-I usually use dried, but only about 1/2 (or so) what the recipe calls for. I crush the dried rosemary in a plastic bap with an spoon, empty glass or whatever. Then I don't have to waste a whole lot of fresh rosemary, or remember to buy it.
Whipping Cream-sometimes I just use milk, depends on how thick I want it to be.
Sieving/Blending Solids/Pureeing-I don't bother with all that, I take my trusty stick blender and stick it the pot (another reason to more finely chop the onions) and puree the whole thing together. If it's too thick I add more water, and stir to bring up any large onion or piece of squash.
Final notes-This is often best made a day ahead, as it let's the flavors blend. Make sure to properly and promptly refrigerate any leftovers!

Monday, October 31, 2005

More Chainblog evil

Now that I have a little time to blog, I don't really feel like it. Luckily, the Moody Minstrel has challenged me to create more tomfoolery so as to offer a window into my soul (right next to the empty beer cans and cigarette butts) here goes:

7 things I plan to do before I die
1. Keep breathing
2. Go to more other continents (maybe yours!)
3. Live in the boonies
4. Remarry my wife
5. Build an energy efficient home (with help!)
6. Learn to love Big Brother (he's watching you)
7. Vote for a Republican

7 things I can do
1. Urinate
2. Program computers
3. I think I remember how to play the piano
4. Write a blog
5. Think (so that's what smells like burning tires!)
6. Pet my cat
7. Accentuate the obvious

7 things I cannot do
1. Teach an old dog new tricks
2. Keep Moody and Pa've from heated debates
3. Condone torture
4. Rock Climb
5. Change the past
6. Snort quarters
7. Watch Survivor

7 things that attract me to another person
1. Being my wife
2. Magnets (provided I am wearing chain mail)
3. Honesty
4. Following the Scout Oath and Law
5. Free beer
6. Compassion
7. Blackened Catfish

7 things that I say the most
1. So that's what smells like burning tires!
2. Everything is the MiniSnab's fault
3. Shiznify! (As if weaving a Harry Potter spell)
4. Oye! Chuk da patte. (Need Yahoo! IM to understand)
5. Crapholio
6. Good night, little bean.
7. Ha Ha! (Like the kid on the Simpsons)

7 people I want to do this
1. Ex-President George H.W. Bush
2. Catfish Johnny Redbeard
3. Gordie Howe
4. Babs (Streisand and Bush)
5. The Moody Minstrel (8 thru 14 is the real b*tch).
6. The Onion
7. Cthulhu

Oh, and I almost forgot, Happy Guy Fawkes day! What the Sam Hain do you think celebratin' it five days early? Beats me.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Fnord Quote

I've been too busy to read the blog, let alone post here...but I did get "tagged" by The Him at Reload blog to perform a blog experiment.

The rules are:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

So my quote is:

I'll bet the price of things would go up, but our taxes would come down to even it out.

I'm sure glad it doesn't lose its meaning out of context. And the people I tag are...

Realm Speak
The Moody Minstrel
Eugene Torrents

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fall Festivals & Yule Tidings!

Of course it's time again for the end of Fall and beginning of the Holiday Season!

In that spirit, here are some fun Portland area things to do:

First, get your Pumpkins and last of the year's produce at a local farm Here's a map!

Next the Verboort Sausage Festival is coming up! Don't miss the chance for fresh kraut and tasty sausage served up by Visitation Parish! Here's the Info

Now right after Thanksgiving, you'll need to start listening to the Cinnamon Bear. Here's a link to a site where you can listen for free!

Then in early December, two great events - The Christmas Ships, which ply the waters of both the Willamette and the Columbia Check here (there are lots of great pics of the ships too!) and The Revels, the Yultide show I've been gushing about for years that has become a family tradition. Visit this site for details!

If you're not in the Portland area, check your local A&E section, there's probably tons of FREE and FUN stuff to do!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Speaking of Deadly Creatures

The linked article shows the ten deadliest creatures in America in terms of annual human fatalities. You thought those nasty Oz-spiders were bad? Well, they don't hold a candle to any of these monsters!

Click the link and check out these deadly scourges of mankind!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Man's Bed Is His...Ewwww!!!!

Unhappy that you're sleeping alone? Think again.

When you bed down for a nice, relaxing bit of shuteye, there are probably over a dozen different forms of life inhabiting the space on your pillow right under your nose. They feed on your dead skin and dried well as each other.

I'm not sure that this knowledge will help any of us sleep well at night, so here is a picture of a Sydney funnel-web spider, one of the deadliest spiders in the world if not the deadliest, to help you relax:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Theater & Community

There's a new issue of Parabola out, called Body and Soul. It's excellent, and among many other thought-provoking articles, has a review on Peter Brook's new play, titled "Tierno Bokar" which is about an early twentieth-century West African Sufi. The theme of the play is Wisedom. Specifically, Brook states in his program note:

"His story draws us deep into an Africa is traditional, animist, impregnated with Islam, shaken by colonialism, and torn apart by internal strife. Starting with a tiny disagreement over the meaning of the number 11 as opposed to the number 12, merciless conflicts arise that lead to massacres, to martyrdom. These tragic events create a chain that eventually links a small African village to the highest political decisions of the Second World War." 1

I profoundly value Peter Brook's creations.. He's the same playwright/director who presented the 4 hour film The Mahabharata, (adapted from his 9 hour stage play), which I had the privilege of seeing at Cinema 21 more than 15 years ago. I find good theater (and it's sister art, film), to be deeply transformative and necessary to the cultural health of our communities and nation. The proliferation of "reality" TV shows says it all: the public has become bored and inured to the increasingly outrageous images, Brook further elaborates on this same theme in the play's program note:

"Theater exists to reopen all comfortable convictions. It has the best weapons for breaking taboos and smashing barriers. These are scandal, violence, and ridicule. But not today. Not any longer. The "shock-effect" cannot hold us any more, it is so close to daily life that it has become quite ordinary. Today, our urgent need is elsewhere, It is to catch glimpses of what our lives have lost. The theater can give us a fleeting taste of qualities long forgotten."2

Some of these long forgotten qualities can be found in community-based theater/events like Revels, Public Dreams in Vancouver, B.C., and here in Stumptown, City Repair. Most of these are free, and family friendly ; take an hour, or a day, and re-vitalize your connections to your family, friends, and neighbors. It's good for the soul.

1 Peter Lamborn Wilon, "Making Room for the Mystery : Peter Brook's Tierno Bokar", pg. 90-91, Parabola, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2005.

2 Peter Lamborn Wilon, "Making Room for the Mystery : Peter Brook's Tierno Bokar", pg. 88, Parabola, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2005.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Yet Another Rare Animal Species Doomed by Short-Sightedness

There used to be several kinds of tree octopus scattered throughout the West Coast states. Now, thanks to progressive destruction of natural habitat, there is only one species left, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus, which is native to a small area along Hood Canal and Admiralty Inlet in the western Olympic Peninsula.

Now, unfortunately, as a result of logging, suburbification, environmental pollution, and the uncontrolled proliferation of predators that prey on them (particularly the bald eagle and sasquatch), the Pacific Northwest tree octopus is in serious danger of being wiped out.

It would be a crime and a shame to stand by and watch this unique and interesting creature wiped off the face of the Earth forever! We should all do what we can to help save the Pacific Northwest tree octopus before it's too late!

I support the PNTO!

(As for me, as a charity fundraiser, I'm thinking of selling my bridge in New York as well as all my Florida beachfront property. Any takers?)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Git 'er Done

Sorry dudes and dudettes. The overtime bug has bitten so posting will be light from me for a while. Luckily, I am working on some smashing new software. Groovy baby, yeah!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fortune Cookie Philosophy 101

I've been contemplating life's little conundrums as viewed through the lens of the ubiquitous fortune cookie; Two I've recieved (and kept for posterity) are:

"Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well"


"Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it"

Now dear readers, à la Mike Myers Coffeetalk character Linda Richman, I say:


(extra points will be awarded for side-splitting hilarity or deep thoughts rendering author "verklempt")

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

One Reason for Mr. Snabulus' Funky Behavior?

Those of us that know Snabby well know he can be, well, a bit moody at times (though not as much as me, obviously) despite having many things in his life that the rest of us can't help but admire. We also know and appreciate his Norwegianness. Is there a connection between the two? Read the linked article (and remember my tongue is firmly in my cheek).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Stumptown Comics Fest 2005...

...was a great event that you missed.


The Portland Comic scene is a great one and this festival showcased some excellent talent. We ended up buying a comic collection from Michel Gagne who had some truly interesting kids books. We also bought an 18th century historical comic by Scott Chantler called Northwest Passage. We also picked up an edition of Steven's Comics and Green Gravel.

The fact that my brother-in-law aired an excellent documentary on the Portland comic scene didn't hurt either. If you like comics, I might be able to get you a DVD of it someday if you ask nicely and if I am able to (NO PROMISES!).

And now...The Snabulus Caption Contest.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cabbage Rolls !

New-World Stuffed Cabbage

Taste of Home Recipe Book, 1st Edition
1994, pg. 65

1 medium head cabbage
1 can (16 oz) sauerkraut, divided
3 bacon strips, diced
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tlbs Hungarian Paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (16 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup long grain rice, cooked
1 lb ground turkey
2 tlbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten

Remove core from head of cabbage. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; boil until outer leaves loosen from head. Lift out cabbage, removed softened leaves. Return to boiling water to soften more leaves. Repeat until all the leaves are removed. Remove tough center stalk from each leaf. Set aside 12 large leaves fro rolls; reserve the balance to use as the recipe directs.

Spoon half of the sauerkraut into the bottom of a Dutch oven; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels. In drippings, sauté onion and garlic until tender. Remove half to a bowl to cool. To remaining onion mixture, add flour, paprika and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

To cooled onion mixture (in bowl), add rice, turkey, parsley, salt, pepper, egg and bacon; mix well. Place about 3-4 tablespoons on each cabbage leaf. Roll up, tucking in sides. Place rolls, seam side down, on sauerkraut in Dutch oven. Cover with remaining sauerkraut. Chop remaining cabbage leaves, place over sauerkraut. Pour tomato mixture over all, adding water to cover if necessary. Cover and bake at 325º for about 2 hours.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Notes: For faster preparation, I usually have the rice & bacon already cooked from some other meal. I also use canned beef broth & canned pre-minced garlic. I don't like parsley, so I don't include it. The most time consuming part is getting the cabbage leaves off the head, (actually, the bigger the head is, the better). My cabbage rolls always end up looking like little balls, rather than the uniform logs in the picture. Of course, you can substitute ground beef, pork or textured protein instead of turkey. The rolls at the Polish Festival looked bigger, seemed to be the standard log shape, and had a lot more rice (no sauce). I also like to fix this around November, when I get the fresh Verboort Sauerkraut. It's got a milder flavor, and is kind of firm, almost crunchy. I often double the ingredients and make extra for lunches & quick meals later in the week.

Snabulus Caption Contest

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just Another Beautiful Sunday

We've been graced with a gorgeous dry and mild September. We decided to take off last Sunday while things were still dry and warm. Our first stop was at the Wildwood Recreation Area for a few miles of hiking. On the way home, we stopped off at the Portland Polish Festival to soak in more of the international culture that permeates our fair city. Although we have no Polish blood, we were drawn by the thought of dance, costumes, beer gardens, and pierogies. Well, off to the pictures...

The MiniSnab hangs out in front of the Cascade Streamwatch underwater display. Small Coho Salmon fry can be seen behind her swimming around in a real habitat.

Here we stand in front of the rushing waters of the Salmon River.

Although autumn is fast approaching, flowers are still in bloom here in the foothills of the Cascades (there were some beautiful orchids, but the pictures came out blurry).

A boardwalk was built across a boggy wetland area. Most of the critters appeared to have buttoned down for the winter, but the winds rattled the cattail reeds and some unknown and unseen water fowl gave off an occasional squawk for us.

After driving off of the flanks of Mt. Hood, we headed to St. Stanislaus Catholic church for the Portland Polish Festival. Here is ladybug trying to hide the beer sign from me.

Here are some dancers. As a side note, there was a very nice exhibit honoring Pope John Paul II in one of the buildings.

Kids always do a great job of dancing. The music was like a polka, but definitely with a Polish and even Russian sounding twist. All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon spent.

Fort Bean Update

Well, I ran out of gumption and the rains were coming.

It was time to waterproof Fort Bean and save the siding until spring. My Cheeto-stained mouse-softened wrists (well, Ry-Krisp and hummus-stained is more like it) were rattled after sawing about 50 or 75 cuts and pounding a few hundred nails. So I tacked up my entire unused tarp collection and bought that shiny black one you saw to keep the thing going until spring.

Radio Flyers make decent coffee tables when you get right down to it. The ribbons were actually leftovers from the 2004 and 2005 Independence Day parades in our neighborhood.

Clear plastic makes for ahm-bee-ahnce in lighting. The roof has both tar paper and plastic, so hopefully that will be enough. My neighbor gave me enough of his excess asphalt shingles to do the whole roof. Good deal and much appreciated.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yet Another Sign The End is Near

Leave it to Japan to take yet another "innocent, family-oriented" mainstay of American culture and turn it into a sexual (or should I say "sexist"?) turn-on...

I'd say it lends a whole new meaning to the term "golden arches".

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Snabulus Caption/Debate Contest

I couldn't embed the image, as it is strictly copyright controlled (for obvious reasons). Check it out.

This eerie cloud appeared over Spain recently. Naturally, the Catholic Spaniards ("Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!") immediately claimed it was the face of Jesus.

However, many disagree, and there have been a lot of different opinions as to whose face it really is. Suggestions have included Ringo Starr and Osama Bin Laden. What do you think?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunny Day at Mt. Angel!

Well, I've just had about the best day so far someone could have! I left at 7:15 am for Mt. Angel, to meet up with a friend, and later some family members. It was a beautiful drive, and no traffic. I had a great time visiting and meeting her two children for the first time. She was kind enough to let me park in her driveway, and then I walked downtown to meet my sister & dad at the Fructsaule- "the Harvest Monument is a symbol of the boutiful harvest and of the goodness of creation." (from the Schedule of Events pamphlet). This year's theme is Harvesting Joyful Memories..Growing Future Dreams! (Please note, the picture is from last year's festival)

I really like how the vendor booths decorate with hop vines, wheat stalks, and other natural materials from the fall season. Many also include lights, as the festivities continue long after dark on Friday & Saturday. I was excited to meet another friend & her husband, who were working one of the many Knights of Columbus booths. It's serendipity like that really "make my day".

There's so much to see & do (the cool Car Show, the Kinder-garten, Weibentanz, Bier & Wiengartens, The Abbey, the Russian Museum, etc.) that you can really spend the whole day.

Secretly too,I think I really enjoyed this particular visit to Mt. Angel's Oktoberfest as I didn't have the little bean, so I was free to wander & explore as much or as little as I wanted!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fort Bean Update

I realize this is not the most exciting blog subject but since building a fort is more fun than sitting behind a keyboard, I didn't have much of a choice. It got too dark to show you, but the roof is framed and the plywood is nailed down. For this winter I am going to use roofing felt (tarpaper) overlain by a tarp to keep the rain out. I will figure out a roofing material next year. I may tarp the walls too depending on time and weather; I'm not sure yet.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fun Night Out!

Last night, I was priviliged to attend the opening of an exhibit by Lillian Pitt, a Native American artist, who has also done several public works here in Portland. The exhibit is at the Oregon Historical Society, and the opening had wine, fancy hor d'ouvres, & a chance to hob nob with Portlandia glitterati!

Lillian's work was impressive, and I most liked the installations, sculpture, and jewelery. She does alot of contemporary work, but of course, I'm most intrigued her pieces that involved ancient petroglyphs.

I have to admit I was sorely tempted by her silver jewelry depicting her verion of the petroglyph called "Crow talking leave of the family" (see the petroglyph link above & scroll down, you'll see it). The silver bracelet was $350, and the matching necklace was $120! (you'll need to scroll down to the very bottom to see the pieces I'm talking about). I spent about 2 minutes thinking about how I could explain the purchase to my husband before reality set in... She's also been able to have Pendleton Woolen Mills make a limited edition tapestry of the same subject. My daughter was captivated by the Coyote & Stick Indian Mask pins.

There was also a traditional Blessing by an artist friend of Lillian's, Rick Bartow, who spoke about her incredible generousity & her work with young aspiring artists. He invoked the 4 directions four times, used an eagle feather, and chanted a Native American healing/blessing song near the end. He stated that to get the song, his elder (teacher?) had gone through Vietnam, they both had hard times in life; "we went through alot to get this song" were his exact words. It was very moving, and truly set a sacred & respectful tone for the viewing of Lillian's pieces.

Now I just need to win the lottery...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pictures on Demand

At the request of at least two people, here are a few pics from the fort and patio project

This is the current state of the structure. I need to buy a couple things to get the roof supports on. I still have lots of 2x6s so guess what the siding is going to be? My hammering hand hovers near hamburgeration.

Here are the lovely and stupid 4x4s planted into the deck slabs. Whose bright idea was that? (The cat is Jeebus.)

Does anybody need about 28 cinder blocks? Here they are. Time to learn about Craig's List I guess.

Road Kill May Help Solve the Energy Problem

At least the German inventor who came up with a machine that produces cheap (less than a fifth what is paid at the pump there) diesel from a mixture of garbage and dead cats claims that all the animals he has used thus far were roadkill.

Yes, you read that right. Cheap diesel from garbage and dead cats. The inventor claims he has already used his homemade fuel to drive more than 100,000 kilometers.

Naturally, animal lovers in his native country are not amused. The German Society for the Protection of Animals claims federal law specifically prohibits dead cats or dogs from being made into fuel.

Hmm...I wonder what other weird things German law specifically prohibits...

Sheesh. This gives a whole new meaning to, "Put a tiger in your tank," doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Turning a Deck into Fort Bean

When we bought this house, we inherited a number of do-it-yourself projects from the previous owners. Among these were a badly framed set of rooms nailed together in the garage, a mushy bathroom floor from an incorrectly installed bathtub, plumbing segments connected with automotive hose and an untreated grey-wood deck with an elevated area that we assumed was for a hot tub. There were several other items of lesser importance schlocked together throughout the place that I won't bore you with.

Thanks to some people who are way smarter than me, most of these items were fixed and the remainder were ignored. I've never liked it, but this year the ugly untreated deck finally got to me. It had to come out. One day, my brother came over and we started pulling nails out of boards and slowly dismantling the thing. I wanted to see if some of the wood was salvagable, so we tried to keep most of the boards intact. After removing the main floor of the elevated "hot tub zone," we found about 25 four-by-fours held into the ground with cement apparently to keep the hot tub from collapsing the deck.

Most of the post were held in place by a 2 foot deep, 10-12 inch diameter slug of cement (with a 4x4 in the center). It took a few days of hard work to get those puppies out of the ground. When Seymour helped me unload them at the transfer station (garbage dump), the buggers weighed in at about 1000 pounds. They charged about $45.00 to take it.

Eventually we removed the deck structure and we got a few more surprises. There are two cement slabs under the deck. The good news is that we can use these as a patio. The bad news is that a chunk is busted out in scallops every two feet or so to make room for 4x4 supports for the deck. Yeesh! Hadn't these people heard of deck kits? Either we dig them out leaving a heavily damaged cement area or figure out a use for them. I am thinking of creating an open air gazebo-like area where Wisteria can grow over a part of our patio. If I do, the 4x4s will stay.

At the end of the project, we ended up with a great number of 2x6 boards left over. I am using these to create Fort Bean for the MiniSnab & friends to hang out in. I have a plan in my head that is derived from an amalgam of different tree fort plans, shed plans, and modular dwelling plans perused from books and the Internet. To be honest, I've never done anything like this before and I hope that the new shelter is sturdy enough to last a few years. I have a few restrictions like an extremely limited budget and a need to make most of the structure out of nothing but 2x6s.

So far I've framed the floor and covered it. It is very remiscent of the tent platforms at a few Boy Scout camps I attended in my youth. I've framed all four walls (one will have a plexiglass window) but still have some nailing to do to get them all hooked together. I am going for a sloped roof, but I need to figure out if my scroll saw can handle the angles needed for supports (which are 2x6s). I did manage to buy a couple of sheets of plywood and some tar paper for the roof on my limited budget. A tarp will probably cover the roof until spring when I will decide on a roofing material. I'm winging it, but so far it is working.

Wish me luck. I hope my intuitive civil engineering skills are up to the task. So does the MiniSnab.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Snabulus, an Organic Depiction

This is an analysis of this blog generated by the Organic HTML website.

Bamboo, blueberries, and blogging. Mmm, mmm good.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Snabulus Caption Contest

In case you were wondering, this is some kind of tomato festival in Spain.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pacific Crest Hike: Epilogue

I woke up the next morning in the comfort of a hotel bed. There was a dampness at the end of my right big toe and it was quite sore. The nail was discolored as well. I wondered whether a blister formed under the nail. There was a black spot at the base of my other big toe nail, but it didn't hurt so I ignored it. Although I hadn't mentioned it much earlier, my bronchial cough was nearly constant now. These factors along with our sore muscles and tired bodies convinced as that coming to Diamond Lake was a smart move. Our daughter, the MiniSnab, would be disappointed that we weren't going to spend another week in the Sky Lakes Wilderness to the south, but she would survive.

We showered again, went to breakfast, rested for a bit, then packed our backpacks. We had three hours to kill before our ride showed up, so we washed clothes at the laundromat, ate some lunch, and walked around waiting for the MiniSnab and Aunt Schvester to show up. We ate lunch and checked out all the watercraft, etc. The gals showed up and we made a short trip to the store, then I drove on out. It turned out that the MiniSnab was not overly keen on a weeklong hike with her parents, so that was a relief.

We entered the northern side of Crater Lake National Park, paid our $10 and headed on in. The road to the rim of the crater closely paralleled our planned Pacific Crest Trail route. The Lodgepole Desert Dust Circus turned into Les Champs d'Enfer (the plains of Hell). As we entered the Pumice Desert (the official name for Les Champs d'Enfer), the blast zone of Mt. Mazama after it collapsed into Crater Lake, the trees gradually turned into a bare pumice field. After the water-poor first 40 miles, we had no regrets about finishing the last 17 with no water and no shade. Good call to drive it in an air-conditioned vehicle instead.

We reached the rim road and found the first turnout to view the lake. Since I was driving, I saw the lake only in glimpses at first, but its sheer size was distracting. We parked the car and got our first view of this truly wondrous place. The deepness of blue in the waters was something I'd seen hundreds of times in pictures and yet it still hit me like a tons of bricks. It was no wonder that this was a sacred place of the Klamath Indians.

We eventually continued on to the Mazama Village Store for a potty break then onward to the town of Fort Klamath to check in to our hotel. We were soon out of the forest and into the golden grasslands north of Klamath Lake. We found our hotel, the Aspen Inn, and checked in. The people that run the place were friendly and full of information about the area. In fact, they gave us a guide to the region which they participated in creating. We found our room, unloaded our food into the refrigerator (no restaurants for miles), and settled in for the day. The grounds of the Inn were nice and green. The water source for the Fort Klamath area is an artesian well and the water table runs just over a foot under the surface. I found out during an after dinner walk that free-flowing water going into roadside ditches is a haven for mosquitoes. I noticed I was getting bitten, but not until the MiniSnab informed me of several on each leg did I realize that the walk was over for me. I slathered on a think layer of Bullfrog sunscreen which the skeeters apparently thought was sugar plum pudding. That raised my visible mosquito bite total for the trip to probably 30 or so. I was not amused.

We headed back to the Park the next day to view the wonders of the area. We bought crap at the visitor's center, watched a ranger explain the features and forms of the Crater Lake area, and gawked at the number of people and the places they came from. Many languages bubbled forth as we passed different groups of people. License plates showed that this was truly a national park. I found my attention eaten up by the vastness of the crater, the unexpected largeness of Wizard Island, the distant details of the crater walls, silhouettes of trees against that brilliant dark blue, and the shorelines transitioning from gray rock, to gray water, then tropical green, then teal, finally to blue. I took many pictures, but pictures are not the same as wrapping your eyes around the vastness of the place.

Digression: I've always found that places with great views always create a quiet place inside me that draws me to just stay and look; to let my mind wander out and touch every rock, tree, and cliff and to perhaps zoom over the areas like a bird of prey, but instead of mice of chipmunks, my prey is beauty, detail, and evidence of the story of the place. Always there is the pull back to where I belong among people. A voice asking where to go next or a fly landing on the forehead is the trigger that does it. End of Digression.

In addition to the Visitor's Center and the view from there, there were other attractions around the lake. The Annie Creek canyon carves its way through a formation of gray, soft ash forming steep walls. Along these walls are places where hot steam and water (called fumaroles) pushed their way to the surface some time in the past. The rock around the fumaroles fused and became harder than the surrounding ash deposits. As the creek eroded the ash, the harder rock around the fumaroles remained leaving pinnacles that look like open-air stalagmites. There is a place in the park called, The Pinnacles, where this can be seen in great detail. There are other mysteries in the park such as The Phantom Ship and the Crater Lake lodge that I will leave to the gentle reader to discover.

We headed back to Fort Klamath and checked out the Historical Museum. A Civil War reenactment was going on at the time. The museum itself was small and most of the items within were civil war uniforms and weaponry. Fort Klamath was found during the Civil War and 2,000 troops were stationed there. Obviously, there were wartime implications to the deployment. The guy running the general store said outright that he sympathized with the South and that the war was not about slavery, but about state's rights (like the right to keep slavery legal). Funny, I didn't see any Southern states defending state's rights on marijuana or the right-to-die initiatives...but I digress...again. Since we are Americans, the side that won, we opted to buy as little as possible from this guy.

After our second night at Aspen Inn, we loaded up, thanked the owners for their hospitality and good will, and headed north on Highway 97 through Bend and Madras. We stopped at the Warm Springs Indian museum since Aunt Schvester hadn't been there before. I saved a few bucks on admission by hanging out with the guy running the museum that day. I didn't catch his name, but he had some perspectives on how things are at the reservation that I hadn't thought about before. Some of the living conditions there are pretty bad. I am not a big gambler, but it reinforced the fact that the cash flow brought in through casinos is important to changing this situation.

We drove on home from there and settled back in to our lives at home. Each night I took off my socks and I would see more fluid where my toe touched. It was also becoming red around the nail, so I went to the doctor for that and my bronchitis. He confirmed that the toe was infected and that I could lose both my big toenails. He prescribed antibiotics (OmniCef) that were used for both the toe and the bronchitis. The toe healed up quickly, but the bronchitis took a while longer. It might have been viral, so the antibiotics wouldn't have helped.

Ladybug and I are both excited about the prospect of getting out into the wilderness again both on shorter weekend trips or on a better-planned longer trip. We learned a lot about what we needed (more salty food and bread) and what we didn't need (3 million pounds of trail mix). We will definitely fit our plans to our physical condition better so we can enjoy more and grunt less. We also thank you for sharing a bit of our lives as we embarked on this adventure.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina Relief Open Thread

This is a place to suggest valid charities and relief groups for helping victims of Katrina. Here are a couple to get started:

Mercy Corps
American Red Cross
Northwest Medical Teams

There are many more...perhaps you can add...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Better Late than Comment Spam

Hi all,

I took a while to get Day 4 of our trek out there...sorry. I've also been deleting spam in our comments section rather alot (Spamalot). I hope that our pals at Blogger are working on a way to combat this as it is quite annoying. Don't be surprised if you are required to enter a verbal confirmation phrase embedded in a freaky graphic file soon.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In Tribute to a True Pioneer

On June 3rd Don Snabulus posted an article about the Moog Fest, celebrating 40 years of the Moog synthesizer and its indelible effect on contemporary music.

Well, now, sadly, Robert Moog has decayed and released, aged 71, felled by a brain tumor. How ironic, considering his brain and the ideas that flowed out of it had such a strong impact on the world of musical instruments.

Moog never claimed to be a musician. He called himself a "toolmaker" whose customers were musicians. His early efforts were huge, clunky machines with lots of cables and knobs (and sometimes they were even played by knobs). True to form, even the newer products put out by the Moog company seem bulky compared with today's industry standards. Many if not most of the devices are even based on surprisingly primitive technology. Still, there is no replacement for their sound or their reliability.

Rest in peace, Robert Moog!

(Hmm...I've never owned a Moog product. Maybe I should look at that MIDI-controlled, digitally programmable Minimoog module...or one of those really wild Moog effectors...)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hiking Down the Oregon Cascades

Well, thanks to a few factors, our great 2005 Pacific Crest Trail section hike did not flourish into the full 110 mile, 2 week backpack trip we had hoped. Instead, Ladybug traveled 52 miles (so far) and a smaller excursion is planned for later this week after I am over bronchitis and a couple of foot problems are healed.

Since this journal is going to occupy space already blogged in by The Moody Minstrel, this post will serve as in index for each day’s activities.

Update: At the doctor's advice, there won't be a week two as originally planned. I have an infection in one big toe and will likely lose the nail. I may lose the other big toe nail as well (it doesn't hurt, but has a blue spot). The bronchitis should be knocked down soon as well. I have an antibiotic called OmniCef that is supposed to take care of both. He told me to maybe go swimming instead.

Week 1, Day 1: Odell Lake

Week 1, Day 2: Whitefish Creek

Week 1, Day 3: Bingham Lakes

Week 1, Day 4: Tolo Camp Springs

Week 1, Day 5: Mt. Ladybug and Mt. Snabulus

Week 1, Day 6: Diamond Lake Resort


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Week 1, Day 6: Diamond Lake Resort

August 18th, 2005
Destination: Diamond Lake Resort
Distance: 12.0 miles
Climbed: 500 ft.
Descended: 2,300 ft

It was still pretty dark when we got up and going. The morning air at 7,000+ feet was chilly but still. It was dead quiet all night with only an occasional (and unnerving) noise among the sticks on the ground or branches in the tree. I don’t think Ladybug slept that well either since we carped at each other about unimportant things. In any case, we set a personal record by being on the trail by 6:35am.

After about a mile of hiking and more climbing, we reached high enough where the views were just busting out to greet us. Although the elusive Mt. Thielsen was still obscured by Howlock Mountain, we were happy to see the low, thick clouds down in the valleys like ghostly lakes spread out below us and to see this high country. The reddish knob of Tipsoo Peak was a great site. We worked our way along the outside of that peak along a hill side of reddish soil just below the timberline. Still climbing; but gradually now.

We reached another saddle and reached the high alpine meadows. Although only a few of tiny, purple dwarf lupines were still blooming and an occasional pipsissewa, one could imagine a month earlier where dazzling reds, blues, and yellows complemented the greens and the loud buzz of thousands of bees, flies, and mosquitoes would have filled the air. Only the flies remained to greet us at this late date. Somewhere in all these fields, we reached the highest point of our trip at 7,560 feet. This was also the highest point on the PCT in Oregon. It was unmarked so we didn’t realize it until we were going downhill for good.

As we kept walking along to the west of Howlock Mt., we finally reached a spot where we could see Mt. Thielsen. I am a sucker for stratovolcanoes like Mt. Hood, St. Helens, etc., so I considered this view to be a prize for the trip. Although not well glaciated, Mt. Thielsen has a great alpine look (kind of a Paramount Pictures thing) and it is known as the Lightning Rod of the Cascades.

We started to descend for real now, with some 2,300 feet down to go before reaching our destination. Although it was a relief not to be climbing anymore, we were on a mission to finish so we increased our pace and it punished our feet (more on that later when they hurt more). We met a few interesting characters that morning. The first were a pair of hikers who were actually filthier than we were. Although we hadn’t showered in days, we at least tried to keep the first layer or two of dust off of us. The guy in this group had a mop of dark red hair and his face was literally grimy like a three year old after playing in a sandbox with a popsicle. A woman walked behind him but she was only slightly dirtier than we were. We asked where they started today and he replied in a huffy voice, “Mexico.” I concluded he was a jerk, but also in a hurry to “get mileage” as some try to achieve records out here.

We also met an older man in his seventies or possibly even eighty walking about as slowly as we did most of the trip. He was very nice and we chatted for a few minutes about destinations, arrivals, and equipment. He was carrying a single trekking pole.

Digression: Trekking poles are lightweight aluminum walking sticks. They look like ske poles modified to fit a walker’s hand. Some people swear by them and some don’t feel the need. Of the dew dozen people we came across on the trail, there were many who used poles and many who did not. I used them for this hike. It took my arm muscles a couple days to work into the routine, but I found them invaluable for stabilizing my bad feet and maintaining a constant speed. On the other hand, Ladybug kept hers stowed in her pack for 99% of the trip. On at least three separate occasions she tried to make use of them, but they just didn’t feel right. My advice to those who are contemplating a long hike is to see if you can borrow a set for a day hike to see if they are “your thing.” End of Digression.

Soon we descended to the Howlock Mountain trail junction and left the PCT superhighway behind. We did not see another person for seven miles. This trail descended along the spine of a ridge. Much of the first couple miles were spent in a beautiful and shady forest of giant mountain hemlock trees with trunk sizes reminiscent of redwood stands at times. This forest was broken by more open areas as we traversed sideward along steep hillsides as we steadily went downward.

As we continued for a couple more miles, signs of horse use gradually increased as did the amount of sunlight penetrating to the forest floor. I’d had enough experience in this region by now to recognize that we were now below 6,500 feet. Somewhere in this stretch Ladybug and I both thought we heard quiet voices, but we were fatigued enough and driven enough not to mention it for several minutes. When Ladybug did mention it, I was immediately relieved not to be the victim of auditory hallucinations. We never saw anyone though and trudged on without solving the mystery.

Just about the time we really needed it, we heard the trickling waters of Thielsen creek. This was the first real stream we had run across in 48 miles and it was as if we could hear the Music of the Spheres. We crossed the creek on a log (another reason I was glad to have trekking poles to offset my terrible sense of balance) and soon we were sitting in a small meadow of yellow monkeyflowers. We drank a bunch of our water so we could refill as much as possible from the purest source of water yet. As beautiful as it was, though, we knew that a few pebbles of deer poop upstream could mean a nasty bout of Giardia, so we treated this water as well. We finished off the Cheez-Whiz to be sure to have enough salt for the last four miles. We spoke during some of our rest breaks about what kind of food and drink would really hit the spot after a week of dried food. The favorites were fresh salad and either burgers or chicken. Ladybug mentioned V-8 and I thought about a cold root beer to drink. We settled for power bars and trail mix of course, but the real food was near now. Our descent was now more than half over and my toes were killing me. Ladybug’s feet were in great pain too. We took about 45 minutes to recover at our private streamside meadow, then we were off again.

Now that we were below 6,000 feet we had one more gauntlet to run, four more miles of the Lodgepole Desert Dust Circus. Actually, the term we started using for it at this point was “that f-ing lodgepole desert.” Apparently, horse people like to ride in “open country” that resembles the Ponderosa since the trail almost immediately turned into a dusty, horseshoe rutted hellhole the moment we entered it. Once again, we were forced into to inhale horse poop laced dust cocktail for most of the rest of the hike. For the next three miles, there was little happening except hiking, grumbling, and foot pain. When we finally heard road traffic from Highway 138, we were relieved to know that we were almost there. A giant culvert pipe passed under the highway that was big enough for people on horses to pass through. It was stinky from horse poo, but we experienced a refreshing minute of cool shadiness. We met our first horse train just past the tunnel with only 100 yards left to the trailhead.

Once at the trailhead we had about a mile to go (but we didn’t know that yet). We tried to inquire with the only people we saw about the direction to the resort, but they were riding away by the time we got to where we saw them. We found our way to the road to the resort and started walking down. A sign said it was a 1/2 mile to the lodge and it was about right. There was almost no shade and it was a very hot walk, but it was nice to be out of the dust. My feet felt like hamburger at that point pounding along the pavement and gravel. Eventually, we saw the beautiful Diamond Lake and checked in to the lodge. Twelve miles of hiking by 2:30pm and we felt it.

We could barely manage the stairs up to our room. We opened the door and gleefully dumped our dusty old gear. The first order of business was SHOWERS. We both took showers and got into the cleanest clothes we had left. Then we headed down to the lodge restaurant for lunch. Real food! Real water! We walked down to the lodge gingerly and with very tired muscles. People noticed our wobbly gaits to be sure. We sat down and ordered lunch. I went for the reuben sandwich, mushroom barley soup, and some orange juice while Ladybug had a chicken breast sandwich, cottage cheese, and tomato juice. Oh, that soup went down so nicely. I felt my self rejuvenating with every spoonful.

We walked around the resort area a little bit and enjoyed the lakeside. We called family to let them know we were safe. Mostly we napped, showered again, and laid in those wondrous clouds of comfort called beds. The beds were the hit of the day. After dinner back at the lodge (more fresh treats), we were ready to crash and so we did.